NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. and Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Molly Wasow Park today made an announcement.
They launch of Unlocking Doors, a new pilot program addressing the city’s housing and homelessness crisis by helping New Yorkers move out of shelters and into newly renovated, rent-stabilized apartments. Now open to applications from owners of rent-stabilized buildings across the city, the Adams administration is set to invest up to $10 million to renovate affordable rent-stabilized homes that have been unavailable for rent for over two years and connect New Yorkers experiencing homelessness to those homes after renovations are complete. The pilot will fund repairs for up to 400 affordable, rent-stabilized apartments throughout New York City, and will be administered in conjunction with the Department of Social Services (DSS), which includes the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and the Human Resources Administration (HRA).
“From day one, this administration has been relentless in its efforts to get New Yorkers into the safe, permanent, and affordable housing they deserve,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “I applaud our teams at HPD and DSS for developing this innovative model, which will fund needed repairs at rent-stabilized homes and unlock them for New Yorkers who need them most.”
“The Unlocking Doors initiative serves a twofold purpose: adding much-needed units to the City’s housing stock and serving New Yorkers in need,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “This pilot demonstrates a strategic approach to repairing vacant, rent-regulated apartments while providing sustainable solutions for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Through this innovative initiative, the Adams administration both is serving New Yorkers today and preparing for the New Yorkers of tomorrow.”
“We are excited about the dual potential the Unlocking Doors pilot has to provide housing to those exiting shelter, and to increase the City’s overall housing supply,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce, Maria Torres-Springer. “By bringing chronically vacant rent-stabilized units into better conditions, we are delivering on our commitment to house more New Yorkers, more quickly, in safe, quality homes.”
“This innovative pilot creates the potential for a win-win for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and owners of rent-stabilized apartments, now sitting idle,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “Owners will make long-needed repairs to low-cost units and connect New Yorkers in the city’s shelter system with safe, stable and affordable housing.”
“New York City’s lack of affordable housing remains one of the primary barriers to moving families and individuals experiencing homelessness into safe and stable long-term housing,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Wasow Park. “This program will help us maximize the utility of the city’s existing stock of rent-stabilized apartments by bringing vacant affordable units back online and connecting New Yorkers experiencing homelessness with CityFHEPS vouchers directly to these freshly renovated units. We look forward to working closely with our agency partners and property owners to support this administration’s goal of expanding housing opportunities for our vulnerable neighbors.”
Since releasing the Housing Our Neighbors blueprint in the summer of 2022, getting more New Yorkers quickly and efficiently into safe, high-quality, affordable homes has been a top priority of the Adams administration. Last week, the Adams administration announced that as a result of robust reforms to City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) housing vouchers — including lifting the 90-day rule, as well as staffing, process, and training improvements — permanent housing placements from shelter using CityFHEPS vouchers have increased 10 percent during the first three months of Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) compared to the first three months of FY23. Over the last year, Mayor Adams has expanded eligibility for CityFHEPS, allowed New Yorkers to use CityFHEPS vouchers throughout New York State, and eliminated credit checks from the affordable housing application process for voucher recipients. The Adams administration helped connect more New Yorkers with CityFHEPS vouchers to permanent affordable homes in FY23 than in any year in the program’s history, in addition to creating the second-most newly constructed affordable homes, the most supportive homes, and the most homes for formerly homeless New Yorkers in a record-breaking year for city-financed housing production. Mayor Adams continues to tackle the city’s underlying housing shortage — including a proposal to update 60-year-old zoning laws and build more than 100,000 additional new homes.
The Unlocking Doors pilot marks yet another step towards helping more New Yorkers out of shelters and into housing, but the pilot also addresses another aim of the mayor’s housing plan: increasing the city’s available housing supply. The dearth of available apartments is particularly acute in the lowest-cost housing, with less than one percent of apartments with asking rents below $1,500 available according to the 2021 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey.
Through this pilot, which is now open to applications, the City will focus on the small number of rent-stabilized apartments that have been chronically vacant and need repairs to become safe and habitable. The program will incentivize property owners with very low-rent apartments to make repairs, ensure the apartment is safe to occupy, and then rent it to a New Yorker experiencing homelessness with a CityFHEPS voucher. New Yorkers moving into the renovated units will receive a two-year lease at the existing rent-stabilized monthly rent. Using their CityFHEPS voucher, the incoming tenants will spend no more than 30% of their income for rent, and the City will cover the remaining balance. The pilot aims to accelerate permanent housing placements from shelters, identify and utilize vacant rent-regulated apartments, and gauge demand for repairs in the existing rent-regulated affordable housing stock.
Interested owners of eligible rent-regulated apartments can apply for pre-approval through HPD’s website. After receiving pre-approval for up to $25,000 to repair eligible units, owners will have up to six months to complete their pre-approved repairs and inform HPD of completion. Once notified, HPD will inspect the pre-approved unit and building according to CityFHEPS inspection standards. If the unit and building pass inspection, HPD will refer the owner to DSS-DHS to start the CityFHEPS lease-up process. After the unit has been leased to a CityFHEPS voucher recipient, DSS-HRA will provide the pre-approved reimbursement for repair work in conjunction with the first CityFHEPS payment.
Owners may renovate up to three low-cost units per building that have been registered with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR) as vacant in both 2022 and 2023. To receive funding, the maximum legal rent for each unit may be no more than $1,200 for a studio or one-bedroom unit, $1,300 for a two-bedroom unit, and up to $1,400 for three- or more-bedroom units. Funding for the pilot allows the City to fund up to 400 unit renovations on a first come first serve basis.
The Unlocking Doors pilot program is now open for applications for qualified units across the five boroughs. To find more information about the program and how to participate, visit the HPD website or reach out to UnlockingDoors@hpd.nyc.gov.
“Homelessness is, at its core, a housing issue — and if we want to solve this crisis, we need as many affordable apartments available to be rented as possible,” said Christine C. Quinn, president and CEO of Win. “On behalf of the thousands of families with children that call Win shelters ‘home,’ I want to thank the City for launching this innovative public-private partnership to get affordable apartments back online and help New Yorkers with CityFHEPS housing vouchers rent them. This program will undoubtedly open doors out of shelter and help countless New Yorkers find apartments they can afford.”
“The Interfaith Assembly applauds the Adams administration as it launches its ‘Unlocking Doors’ initiative today as the next step in helping 400 households move from homelessness to housing while bringing 400 long term vacant rent-regulated apartments back into New York’s affordable housing stock,” said Marc L. Greenberg, Executive Director of Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing. “In this time of almost overwhelming need and constrained budgets, it is crucial that every sector of our city employs innovative means to unlock more resources needed to address our extreme homelessness and Affordable housing crisis. Unlocking Doors is a welcome next step in this regard, and the Interfaith Assembly looks forward to doing our part to support it.”
“HPD’s new Unlocking Doors pilot program to help rent-stabilized housing get repairs while housing people who are experiencing homelessness is a creative solution to address two critical housing needs,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference. “We are excited for owners to join the program and look forward to its success and expansion in the future.”
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) promotes quality and affordability in the City’s housing, and diversity and strength in the City’s neighborhoods – because every New Yorker deserves a safe, affordable place to live in a neighborhood they love. We maintain building and resident safety and health, create opportunities for New Yorkers through housing affordability, and engage New Yorkers to build and sustain neighborhood strength and diversity. HPD is entrusted with fulfilling these objectives through the goals and strategies of Housing Our Neighbors: A Blueprint for Housing and Homelessness, Mayor Adams’ comprehensive housing framework. To learn more about what we do, visit nyc.gov/hpd and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.
The Department of Social Services (DSS): The Department of Social Services, comprised of the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), serves millions of New Yorkers annually through a broad range of services that aim to address poverty, income inequality, and prevent homelessness. HRA serves over three million New Yorkers through the administration of more than 12 major public assistance programs. DHS oversees a broad network of shelters, services, and outreach programs dedicated to helping New Yorkers experiencing homelessness get back on their feet. DSS is central to the City’s mission to expand opportunity for more New Yorkers, address income inequality, help New Yorke
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